We started the year with our new mayor and his appointed school CEO pushing a longer school day ( 7 1/2 hours) onto families, teachers and students. The mayor continues to cry “it’s all about the children!” as his reasoning for the longer school day and extended year. Parents who object to such a lengthy day have organized and have pushed back.
PURE points out that the mayor’s children attend a private school that has a shorter day and year, but somehow manages to be an excellent school. Raise Your Hand wants to see the research that says a longer day equals better outcomes. Six Point Five to Thrive is a parents organization that agrees with the longer day, just not 7.5 hours long. Raise Your Hand has survey results that back up Six Point Five’s message too. Everyone wants to know how the mayor plans to pay for a longer school day and year with CPS’s already huge budget shortfall.
One of the schools that did take the mayor’s money to extend their day has seen it backfire. The parents don’t like it. “The parents’ survey found that the extended hours, along with long commutes, has some parents complaining about school days of up to 10 hours for some students. Skinner North is a selective enrollment school and its students come from across the city.” While Skinner North is a selective enrollment, we must remember that a lot of magnet and charter schools draw students from around the city, thus making the issue of 8-year-olds’, like my own daughter, commutes relevant.
This week’s CPS Board Meeting was a convergence of pissed off parents ready to exert their power. Unfortunately the board only listens to their boss, the mayor. No amount of parent outrage, no matter how logical, could convince the appointed board to put down their rubber stamps.
And there appears to be a growing movement of parents who are calling for an elected board.
So what’s a parent to do? The mayor pleads for us to not to move to the suburbs. He doesn’t have to worry since we can’t sell our homes in order to move!
I suggest we make sure to vote for our respective Local School Councils. It’s our only connection to the Board of Education and City Hall. Oh, didn’t know that it’s election year for LSCs? It was announced at a board meeting! Weren’t you there? I know being active in your LSC may seem like a waste of time in the face of a mayor who can get the Illinois legislature to give him the power to extend the school day when he requests. But, for me, it seems the only way. Other than quitting work and homeschooling. And my daughter would revolt and run away to the circus.
I often have to remind myself that I live in Chicago for many reasons. We’re fortunate to attend one of the better schools in the system too. But that doesn’t mean I want to sit back and watch the rest of the system be privatized and all of our children tested to the point where they hate to learn. Selective enrollment, charter, magnet or neighborhood school, I see us all coming together for our children. At least we have each other.
About the Author: Veronica I. Arreola is a professional feminist, a mom and a writer. She blogs about the intersection of feminism and motherhood at VivalaFeminista.com. Veronica lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband, their spunky daughter and doxie named Piper. You can connect with Veronica at Facebook or Twitter.